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Musical World

Mason Bates

  • Composer


MASON BATES: Young Concert Artists Composer-in-Residence from 2000-2002, Mason Bates composes for a wide variety of media, with a portfolio of orchestral, chamber, theatrical, and electronic works. His music was hailed by the San Francisco Chronicle as "lovely to hear and ingeniously constructed."

The California Symphony has chosen Mr. Bates as its Young American Composer in Residence for three seasons, beginning in the fall of 2007. In May 2007, he received an Academy Award in Music from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, an award that “honors outstanding artistic achievement and acknowledges the composer who has arrived at his or her own voice.”
His recent premieres include Liquid Interface, which was commissioned by the National Symphony Orchestra and received its premiere, conducted by Leonard Slatkin, at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. in February 2007. Mr. Bates is participating in a Music Alive Residency with the Mobile Symphony, which performed Ode in March 2006 and his Overture to California Fictions in November 2006.

Mr. Bates’ recent successes include the premieres of Digital Loom, an electro-acoustic work commissioned by The Juilliard School to celebrate its 100th anniversary in January 2006 and Rusty Air in Carolina for electronics commissioned by the Winston-Salem (NC) Symphony in May 2006.

His work Omnivorous Furniture for sinfonietta and electronica was premiered on the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Green Umbrella Series at Disney Hall in November 2004 and has received subsequent performances by the American Composers Orchestra and the Oakland East Bay Symphony. From Amber Frozen for String Quartet, commissioned by the Naumburg Foundation for the Biava Quartet, premiered in May 2004 at Alice Tully Hall. Mr. Bates’ music is performed by orchestras including the Oakland Symphony, the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, the Louisville Orchestra, the Evansville Philharmonic, the Greenville Symphony Orchestra, the Aspen Festival Orchestra, and at the Spoleto USA Festival. His chamber works have been performed by the Claremont Trio, Ensemble X, Austrian bass Rupert Bergmann, Berlin’s Scharoun Ensemble, and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players.

Also an active performer, Mr. Bates has performed his concerto for synthesizer, Sounds for His Animation, commissioned by the New Juilliard Ensemble, with the Atlanta and Phoenix Symphonies. His interest in writing for unconventional forces has led him to develop works for the theater as well as the concert hall. His interest in theater has been influenced by playwriting studies under Kenneth Koch, Arnold Weinstein and Mark Adamo.

Song cycles, theatrical works, and a music-drama for one actor and five musicians called Trout Fishing in America, which was produced at Lincoln Center’s Clark Theater in 1997, comprise a growing list of Mason Bates’ works for the stage. Also active as underground hip-hop DJ “Masonic,” Mr. Bates often appears at clubs such as 111 Minna, Skylark, Cloud 9, and for Plado Media in San Francisco, Scarabocchio and Metaverso in Rome’s Testaccio district, and Zu Mir Oder Zu Dir and Kinzo in Berlin. Raised in Virginia where he studied piano with Hope Armstrong Erb and composition with Dika Newlin, Mason Bates enrolled in the Columbia-Juilliard program in New York City.

Earning degrees in music composition and English literature, he worked with John Corigliano, David Del Tredici, and Samuel Adler. He is currently pursuing a doctoral degree from the University of California, Berkeley, where he has worked with Edmund Campion, David Wessel, and Jorge Liderman.

Awards include a Charles Ives scholarship and fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Jacob Druckman Memorial Prize from Aspen Music Festival, ASCAP and BMI awards, and a Fellowship from the Tanglewood Music Center